A night with David Sedaris, a Charlotte Day Wilson show and eight other things to see, do, hear and read this week
An open-book author’s most personal stories yet
1David Sedaris has squeezed a lot of comedic mileage out of his family, private life and checkered pre-fame career. Now the beloved author and humourist is getting even more personal with Theft by Finding, a collection of diary entries that span from 1977 to 2002. At this reading, Sedaris shares some of those logs, which are both hilarious (an ill-fated hitchhiking trip across America) and heartbreaking (accounts of homophobic abuse). Expect to hear stories from Sedaris’s next collection of essays, too, as well as an American expat’s perspective on Trump. Tuesday, October 17. $45–$60. Sony Centre for the Performing Arts.
A hyper-political author fest
2The readings, panels and interviews at this year’s International Festival of Authors have a decidedly political edge. Highlights include Glorious and Free?, a discussion between Jesse Wente, Desmond Cole, Rachel Giese and moderator Jesse Brown about Canada in 2017; Giller-winning author André Alexis on art and politics in the “age of resistance”; and a keynote by American Civil Liberties Union president Susan N. Herman. Thursday, October 19 to Sunday, October 29. $18. Harbourfront Centre.
Back-to-back-to-back nights of music
3Jazz iconoclasts BadBadNotGood, soul singer Charlotte Day Wilson and R&B upstart Allie headline 3 Days in Toronto, a music fest by Red Bull Sound Select. The genre-bending events also include a dance collaboration by Drake besties Majid Jordan and National Ballet choreographer Siphesihle November, as well as a rap performance by CMDWN backed by DJ sets by Killa Kels, Nino Brown and Dre Ngozi. Thursday, October 19 to Saturday, October 21. $20. Various venues.
A ceramic art retrospective
4Steven Heinemann established himself as one of Canada’s most influential ceramics artists by making beautifully flowing bowls, pods and other creations. The Gardiner Museum’s retrospective presents more than 70 objects from Heinemann’s oeuvre, as well as sketchbooks, source materials and a time-lapse video that documents a clay surface as it dries, warps and cracks. Opens Thursday, October 19. $15. Gardiner Museum.
A moving depiction of life on the reserve
5Get ready to have your heart broken. Huff is a one-man play written and skilfully performed by Cliff Cardinal, actor Tantoo Cardinal’s son and a major new voice in Canadian theatre. It follows three motherless young brothers on a First Nations reserve who dull their pain with dangerous pranks and harrowing substance abuse. The show is a searing fictional depiction of the all-too-real tragedies facing Canada’s Indigenous youth, punctuated with merciful flashes of humour. Monday, October 16 to Saturday, October 28. $35. Young Centre for the Performing Arts.
A Giller winner’s new familial fiction
6Will Ferguson won the 2012 Giller Prize with 419, an irony-laced thriller about a victim of a Nigerian scam. Its follow-up, The Shoe on the Roof, displays the same humour with a hint of melancholy. It follows Thomas, a researcher whose medical career is overshadowed by the legacy of his father, a famous psychiatrist who treated Thomas’s childhood as one prolonged psychological evaluation. To make his own mark, Thomas undertakes an ambitious experiment—to “cure” three homeless men who claim to be the Messiah—that forces him to reckon with his troubled past. Tuesday, October 17. Simon and Schuster.
Snapshots from the Canadian bush
7Before she became a conflict photographer, Rita Leistner had a serious green thumb—in the 1980s and ’90s, she planted more than half a million trees in Canada’s most remote reaches. In this solo show, The Tree Planters, she returns to her (ahem) roots with a series of portraits of tree planters, examining how the job has shaped both Canada’s physical landscape and its national identity. The photos are bright and beautiful, a rare celebration of life from an artist who usually documents the devastation of war. Saturday, October 21 to Saturday, November 18. Stephen Bulger Gallery.
The TSO’s homage to an operatic great
8The late Canadian contralto Maureen Forrester was known for her sense of humour, easy manners, love of Canuck composers and that sumptuous, velvety voice. She made signature pieces of many of Gustav Mahler’s symphonic works, most notably the song cycle Das Lied von der Erde (The Song of the Earth). In this tribute to Forrester, Susan Platts brings her warm-hearted mezzo voice to the great work alongside tenor Michael Schade. Also on the program: the world premiere of a new piece for mezzo-soprano and orchestra by Howard Shore. Thursday, October 19 and Friday, October 20. $60.75–$154. Roy Thomson Hall.
An overlooked art hero’s posthumous exhibition
9The AGO rediscovers an unsung art pioneer with its retrospective of Florine Stettheimer, an early-20th-century poet, painter, designer and feminist. The show includes paintings, drawings, costumes and set designs that challenge the dichotomy between low and high culture, and puts Stettheimer in the context of the New York art scene where she flourished. Opens Saturday, October 21. Gallery admission $25. Art Gallery of Ontario.
Three excellent female-focused plays
10The Seven Siblings Theatre company’s Future Theatre Festival showcases three cutting-edge Canadian plays. Genevieve Adam’s New World juxtaposes a 17th-century Londoner’s journey to North America with a 21st-century woman’s quest to colonize Mars. In Nawi Moreno-Valverde’s Tactile Maladies, a group of women are trapped in a quarantine house during a plague. And in Becky Tanton’s This Place, a woman is haunted by her dead husband’s ghost. Thursday, October 19 to Sunday, October 29. $20. Attic Arts Hub.